'The mood is rather low': Windsorites share their memories of Queen Elizabeth II

·4 min read
Queen Elizabeth smiles on a visit to Canada in 1984. She passed away Thursday at Balmoral Castle at the age of 96. (The Canadian Press - image credit)
Queen Elizabeth smiles on a visit to Canada in 1984. She passed away Thursday at Balmoral Castle at the age of 96. (The Canadian Press - image credit)

He was a foot away from her. It was her first visit to a mosque in the United Kingdom.

He will remember that moment forever.

"All my friends who were delegates of the Scunthorpe Islamic Centre got to meet her face-to-face," said Salman Gul, a British expat living in Windsor. "The Muslims of Scunthorpe feel a very close sentiment with the Queen."

Mike Evans/CBC
Mike Evans/CBC

Gul is from Scunthorpe, a town in the English Midlands. He was shocked when he heard the news that Queen Elizabeth II passed away Thursday afternoon.

"I feel like I've lost a family member in a sense," he said. "The mood is rather low at the moment."

Gul is a classic car enthusiast and remembers her fondness for Land Rovers. He feels that is how he will remember her best.

"It's a sentiment many share with the Queen," he said.

'It's going to be a sad loss for England and Canada'

Kaye Rosalyn Dyason-Brown of Windsor met her on a 1984 trip to Windsor, and also twice in her native England. Her life is full of royal connections, from her husband proposing to her on the grounds of Windsor Castle to her father being the mayor of Windsor, England.

Her first meeting with the Queen was at the Royal Windsor Horse Show when she was young, but she has a special memory of meeting Elizabeth at her Silver Jubilee in 1977.

"She wore a lovely red dress. I can always remember that," Dyason-Brown said.

WATCH | A look back to the Queen's visit to Windsor, Ontario in 1984:

Elizabeth's second trip to Windsor allowed Dyason-Brown to share a moment of nostalgia with the monarch.

"I mentioned to her that I met her in 1977," said Dyason-Brown.

Dyason-Brown remembers Elizabeth as a "nice person, quiet and assuming". She said the monarch was very popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

"It's going to be a sad loss for England and Canada," Dyason-Brown said.

'Being Canadian is something we're proud of'

Chris Lucki, a historian and member of the Monarchist League of Canada, saw Elizabeth during her visit to Windsor in 1984. He was only five years old at the time, but he knew something big was going to happen when his mother pulled him out of school.

WATCH | Windsorites remember the queen:

All he remembers was seeing the monarch waving back from her car.

"That was my first memory of the Queen and the monarchy in Canada," said Lucki.

Lucki says the birthday and naming of Windsor, Ont., was marked on May 24, 1892 to coincide with Queen Victoria's birthday, even though the name of the Royal Family was not Windsor at the time.

He was also fortunate to speak with Elizabeth in 2010 during a brief moment with her at Queen's Park in Toronto. Although Lucki doesn't remember much of the monarch's 1984 trip to Windsor, he remembers this visit much more.

"We both smiled, and I said, 'Your Majesty makes me proud to be a Canadian'," recalls Lucki.

Darrin Di Carlo/CBC
Darrin Di Carlo/CBC

"As she was walking away, she said over her shoulder, 'Being Canadian is something we're proud of.'"

'The importance of giving beyond yourself'

Alex Deans met the Queen in person in 2017.

Deans is the inventor of iAid, a navigation device that helps people who are blind. A "serial inventor, artist, and public speaker," according to his website, he was made a Queen's Young Leader and spent a week in the United Kingdom.

"It was such a phenomenal experience," Deans said. "It's something that I'll take with me throughout my entire life."

One thing that struck him about the monarch is her sense of commitment to causes that were close to her heart.

"That's something I looked up to," Deans said. "The importance of giving something beyond yourself."

Another thing he admired about the Queen was her ability to captivate you when you were conversing with her.

"She had this quality where when she talked to you. You felt like you were the only person in the room,"

City hall lit in purple

City flags have been lowered to half mast, and Windsor City Hall will be illuminated in purple to recognize the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen was born in 1926 and ascended to the throne in 1952 when she was 25 years old.

Queen Elizabeth II died today at the age of 96.